In 2019, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement (USMCA) was finalized to update and replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was concluded in 1992 and entered into force in 1994. With the entry into force on 1 July 2020 and with combined trilateral trade of more than $1,200 billion, the USMCA creates the largest free trade area in the world outside the European Union. The EU`s trade relations with ACP countries are governed by the Cotonou Partnership Agreement signed in 2000 between the EU, its member states and the ACP countries. As this political, economic and global development partnership expires in 2020, the parties are currently negotiating a successor agreement (the “post-Cotonou”). In Africa, EPAs support the implementation of the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, launched in September 2018. These are key instruments of the EU`s overall strategy with Africa. The economic pillar of this strategy sees trade – in addition to regional and continental economic integration – as an important element in promoting the sustainable development of African countries. The overall goal of EPAs is to contribute, through trade, to sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction in ACP countries. The Economic Partnership Agreements are a system for creating a free trade area between the European Union and the Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP). This is a response to persistent criticism that the EU`s proposed non-reciprocal and discriminatory preferential trade agreements are incompatible with WTO rules. The EPAs date back to the signing of the Cotonou Agreement.

EPAs with different regions are in different playing conditions. In 2016, the EPAs were to be signed with three regional economic communities in Africa (East African Community, Economic Community of West African States and Southern African Development Community), but these faced challenges. [1] However, researchers at the Overseas Development Institute predict that the effects of EPAs are rather minimal. [9] Given that most of the countries in the AFRICA, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group already had duty- and duty-free access of approximately EUR 1.4 billion over the Cotonou agreement, which expired in 2007, there were few new offers. [9] The expected effects of ODI:[9] Discover the current trade relationship between the EU and Japan The Cariforum-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPOL) benefits both the Caribbean and Europe, as it facilitates investment and trade between the two regions.

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